Goyescas, H.64 No. 1: Los Requiebros
Enrique Granados was first and foremost a pianist, trained in the Classical discipline. He studied piano in Barcelona, and in Madrid became a composition pupil of the very influential Felipe Pedrell, who also counted among his students Albéniz and Falla. As it did for these Spanish colleagues, Paris figured prominently in Granados’ artistic background. After two years in the French capital, Granados returned to Barcelona, and in 1890 gave his first recital there with great success. Within two years of that debut, he had composed all twelve of his Spanish Dances for piano, and later wrote several zarzuelas, some chamber music, and songs.
In retrospect, many of these compositions seemed to be laying the groundwork for the series of piano pieces titled Goyescas of 1911. In these works, inspired by the paintings and etchings of the great Spanish artist Francisco Goya (1746-1828), Granados created a supremely elegant world of Spanish music evolved through a keyboard style of an extremely ornate and complex, thus difficult, order, but one that somehow remains eminently pianistic.
“Los requiebros” is a jota, a song and dance form of Aragón, in northern Spain. The piece begins languorously and then moves brilliantly through changes of speed and emotional color. There are sections whose intricacies seem to demand at least four hands, or more. In describing Goyescas, the renowned critic and writer on music, Ernest Newman (1868-1959), said in part, “The music, for all the fervor of its passion, is of classical beauty and composure. [It] is a gorgeous treat for the fingers.”
— Orrin Howard, who served the Los Angeles Philharmonic as Director of Publications and Archives for more than 20 years, continues to contribute to the Philharmonic’s program book.